The long connection of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers obviously dates back to the 1996 NBA Draft and the weeks leading up to it when the Lakers engineered a trade to land the 13th pick from the Charlotte Hornets and select the future superstar.
On a recent podcast with The Hollywood Reporter, Bryant shared another interesting story from draft night on the trade with the Hornets.
Leading up to draft night, Bryant knew the Lakers had acquired the 13th pick and that, despite being drafted by the Hornets, he would end up on the Lakers.
The formalities of the draft, however, required Bryant to get on the phone with then Charlotte general manager Dave Cowens, which led to a memorable exchange.
Kobe: There was a player named Dave Cowens, he was an all-time great for the Celtics. He, at the time, was the general manager for the Hornets. So I get on the phone with Dave Cowens and Dave Cowens tells me ‘Alright, you know what’s going on with the trade.’ And I’m like ‘Yeah.’ Now there’s cameras and photographers around me capturing the moment.
Scott Feinberg: And you did know
Kobe: Yeah I knew. So I’m like ‘Ok yeah I know what’s going on.’ And he’s like ‘Oh yeah that’s great because we couldn’t have used you anyway.’
As if there was any need to add extra motivation to Bryant, Cowens did it. Bryant would go on to have a so-so career in Los Angeles and tormented the Hornets/Bobcats, averaging 24.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 31 games against them, including hitting one of his earliest game-winners.
We at Lakers Outsiders would like to extend a very big thank you to David Cowens for not needing Kobe Bryant.